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Awarded for service to Aboriginal Affairs
Entered on roll: 2007
Annette Peardon was born at Whitemark, Flinders Island, in 1949. At the age of nine, Annette was taken away from her mother, spending her childhood in foster homes and institutions. She was punished as a child for crying and missing her mother. She disciplined herself not to cry.
Annette’s story is typical of the Stolen Generations. These were children taken from their parents and put into foster homes or institutions. Many lost contact with their family and heritage.
Annette is an Aboriginal elder and staunch activist. She has worked long and hard and has been instrumental in gaining reconciliation for the Tasmanian Stolen Generations. She has earned great respect from the Aboriginal community, members of Parliament and the community at large for her positive but tenacious fight for justice for the members of the Stolen Generations.
Annette was appointed Tasmanian co-commissioner on the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s national inquiry into the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.
Annette was present when the Tasmanian Parliament acted on one of the recommendations from that inquiry by apologising to the Stolen Generations in 1997. On 13 August 1997, Annette made history by becoming the first member of the public in more than 100 years to address the House of Assembly. In an historic and moving event, then Premier, Tony Rundle, then Opposition leader and future Premier, Jim Bacon, and then Tasmanian Greens leader Christine Milne all backed the move to apologise to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people for the Stolen Generations.
Apart from official appointments and her work at the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, Annette has worked tirelessly on Stolen Generations issues. With Link-Up, Annette has worked for many years trying to re-unite removed children and their families.
More recently, she led members of the Aboriginal community in celebrating a major milestone - the historic passing of the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal Children Act 2006 in Tasmania. The Act enables the Tasmanian Government to provide payments to eligible members of the Tasmanian Stolen Generations from a fixed fund of $5 million.
The Act was passed unanimously in both Houses of Parliament in November 2006, evoking scenes rarely observed in 150 years of Tasmanian Parliament. It was reported that the public galleries of both the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly were crowded with onlookers who clapped, cheered and cried as politicians of all political persuasions spoke in favour of the legislation.
Similar scenes followed Annette’s address to the House of Assembly prior to the legislation being passed. Following her heart-felt speech, she put to the House: “I cry for each and every one of us, for our community, for the parents, grandmas and grandpas. I am a survivor and I am going to ask Parliament today to please consider the bill for compensation...I am asking for the better interest of the Aboriginal children in our community, that we be together thankfully in the name of reconciliation.”